AADOM News |4 min read

How to Use the ADKAR Model to Lead Change in Your Team

Kristi Abrahamsen, DAADOM with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

The famous Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “Change is the only constant.”

It’s all around us and is unavoidable for growth.

Change is how you lead the charge that’ll set your team up to succeed or fail.

Leaders who engage the teams following certain protocols are more successful in adapting to reach the new practice goals.

Change could be introducing the team to new processes, technology, structure, or re-structure.

Practices that are not open to change are likely to fall behind the competition.

As an example, we’re seeing more and more dental providers choosing to go out of network with insurance companies.

Without change, eventually, the practices that stay in-network will be overwhelmed with in-network patients with smaller reimbursements.

Regardless of the need for a change in your practice, it’s important to follow some basic guidelines to set your team up for the best chance of long-term success.

Changes that are poorly implemented and executed can create issues within the team, such as:

  • Resentment
  • Giving you a reputation of poor leadership
  • Low morale
  • Exclusion of some team members

Remember to look out

The need for change is a warning signal that there’s a problem that needs to be overcome.

If you fail to engage team members to accept change, they will be resistant to follow new protocols or systems or find a way to work around the change. As such, it’s a process that should not be rushed, or there could be a high risk of failure. Team members will fail to engage, lose trust in your practice, and put in minimal effort.

If you have team members that are resistant to change, it is important to find out why.

Resistance is actually a good thing and creates accountability to implement the change in the best way possible.

Ask those team members what their key concerns are and clearly communicate with them to relieve any anxiety and hesitations. Often, a lack of understanding of the need for change is what creates resistance in the first place.

When considering a large change in your practice, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Does your team understand the issue and need to create the change?
  • Have you given the team time to process the change?
  • Have you asked the team for their input and involvement?
  • Is there a plan to implement that change?

The Prosci ADKAR Model is a simple foundation to help you implement change in your practice:

  • Awareness: Helping your team understand the need for change.
  • Desire: Helping your team build the desire to want to support the change and how they can contribute to the process.
  • Knowledge: Building the understanding of how the team needs to change and communicate their future role and tasks with the change, specifically how it will impact them.
  • Ability: Assisting the team in learning the skills and systems they need.
  • Reinforcement: Putting protocols in place to prevent backsliding into old habits or ways of doing things.

Putting theory into action

As an office manager in a pediatric dental practice, our most challenging time to schedule appointments for children is during school hours. Parents are back working full time, and it’s harder for them to leave their jobs during the day to bring the children to mid-day appointments.

Also, with the current pandemic, children in our area are finally going back to school in person, and parents are resistant to having them miss valuable time in class. We understood the importance and needed to think of how we could be available when the children and their parents needed us to be.

We first introduced the challenge in a team meeting and opened up the floor for discussion following the ADKAR model. Several ideas were presented, such as earlier morning or later evening options.

Ultimately, the team decided to add a regular Saturday to our schedule since it would check most of the boxes to help our families. Offering a day when parents would not be working and schools would be closed would fulfill that need.

Because of this collaborative team discussion, it has been a successful team buy-in and implementation of the change.

Working toward success

It’s important to treat your team with respect and be open to hearing opinions, as it may spark new ideas.

Team members like to be involved, have a say, and want to be a valued member of your dental family.

Creating an open form establishes accountability, creates ownership, and team members become more invested and accepting of change.

Use the ADKAR model as a guideline to help you successfully implement change for everyone.

Meet the Author

Kristi Abrahamsen wearing black scrubsKristi Abrahamsen… This text opens a new tab to Kristi’s about page…, DAADOM serves as the president of the AADOM Bay Area, CA Chapter… This text opens a new tab to the Bay Area chapter’s website…. In 2021, she was inducted into AADOM’s first class of DAADOMs.

Since 1991, she has been in multiple capacities for both orthodontic and periodontic specialties. Kristi is an RDH in her home state of California and is the administrative clinic supervisor at UCSF School of Dentistry in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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One thought on “How to Use the ADKAR Model to Lead Change in Your Team
  1. Avatar
    Dentist Montgomery MD

    Wow, nice informational article going to bookmark this page for future reference and gonna share it with friends…
    Great Content, Thank you. Visit

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